“Agreed,” Broadbent said. “I’m always happy to talk with you on issues of mutual interest. That’s one of the reasons I am here, after all.”
“Thank you for taking my call,” Bronkowski answered. “It is always very pleasant to talk to you. Bronkowski out.”
“Broadbent out,” Broadbent echoed while she closed down the call. She inhaled her tea’s aroma. It was a fine tea for such a dreary day. She opened a channel on her deskcomp and began to dictate a report on the conversation. Bronkowski appeared to know something that she didn’t, a position she did not like to be in.
LARGE GAP IN TIME
See the Alpha Core
Primary Atomic Spray Facility One
Bulger Shipyards, North California
Elaine Bell stood at one corner of the landing field, waiting for her expected guests. Today was gray and rainy, a December chill having replaced the warmer weather. Gusts of wind drove puddles across the landing field.
“Senor Inspector Tzoltzin’s aircar is on final approach,” the voice in her earbug announced, “coming in at 270 true. Takeoff of the Mighty Transporter II is being held until he lands. Bulger Flight Control, out.”
She looked out over the waters of the Pacific. The roar of the waves, driven by a storm still well off-shore, was unusually loud. Waterproof rain gear or not, she was facing into the wind, and could feel raindrops breaking across her face. There, dipping below the cloud line was the bright Republic Orange of the Inspector’s air transport. She felt the distinct hum of a vehicle landing with the support of an alpha drive core. As it settled to earth, her freight transporter rolled forward, positioning itself as close as possible to the aircar’s now extending landing ramp.
Lieutenant Tashiro Junichiro appeared at the passenger hatch, made a cursory check of the surroundings, and marched down the ramp. “Elaine,” he said as he reached bottom, “it is as always good to see you. The Senior Inspector will follow in a moment; he is donning weather gear.”
“Apologies for the climate, but you can’t put a weather screen over a landing field,” Elaine said.
“Curiously, the Inspector said the same thing. He grumbled about the expected near-polar weather.”